Chief warns of Egypt-like ‘crisis’ in U.S. embassy letter

The U.S. should pay closer attention to the deteriorating relationship between First Nations and Ottawa or risk being “blindsided” by an Egypt-like crisis in Canada, a Manitoba chief said in a letter sent to the U.S. ambassador to Canada.

(Roseau River Chief Terrance Nelson. APTN/Photo)

By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
The U.S. should pay closer attention to the deteriorating relationship between First Nations and Ottawa or risk being “blindsided” by an Egypt-like crisis in Canada, a Manitoba chief said in a letter sent to the U.S. ambassador to Canada.

Roseau River Chief Terrence Nelson said in the letter sent Wednesday that a “potential crisis” was brewing in Canada over the federal government’s continued refusal to allow First Nations to benefit from the country’s oil riches and pipelines.

“In Canada, Indigenous people’s rights are being ignored and it is only a matter of time before a crisis arising out of economic hardship will occur as it has in Egypt,” wrote Nelson in the letter to U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson. “Americans looking north should not ignore the human rights issues in Canada.”

It’s unclear how seriously the U.S. embassy is taking Nelson’s warning. A spokeswoman for the U.S. embassy said she couldn’t immediately comment on the letter because a snowstorm in Ottawa had prompted most embassy staff to go home early. Stacy White, a press officer, said the embassy would, however, consider whether to respond.

Nelson met with embassy officials in late December during the Assembly of First Nations special chiefs’ assembly in Gatineau, Que., where he raised some of his concerns.

The AFN passed a resolution calling for the organization to find a way to get First Nations leaders before the U.S. Congress to testify about the situation in Canada.

Nelson received 10 per cent of the vote when he ran for national chief of the AFN in 2009.

In the letter, Nelson raises concerns about the Enbridge oil pipeline depot in Gretna, Man. The depot is part of the world’s largest petroleum pipeline system carrying Alberta oil into the U.S., according to Enbridge’s website.

“Gretna is in our traditional lands and pipelines are still a major issue for us,” wrote Nelson. “If there is any lesson from Egypt, it is better to be well informed rather than blindsided by events as they unfold.”

Gretna is about 124 kilometres south of Winnipeg, near the Manitoba-North Dakota border.

Copies of the letter were also sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, AFN national Chief Shawn Atleo, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. Gary Doer, Indian Affairs Minister John Duncan and Jefferson Keel, chairman of the National Congress of American Indians. It also went out to various media outlets.

Nelson also asked the U.S. embassy for help in arranging for First Nations leaders to appear before the U.S. Congress.

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Online Producer / Ottawa

Before moving to become the APTN News social media producer, Mark was the executive producer for the news in eastern Canada. Before starting with APTN in 2009, Mark worked at CBC Radio and Television in Newfoundland and Labrador and Ottawa.

6 thoughts on “Chief warns of Egypt-like ‘crisis’ in U.S. embassy letter

  1. The ready and the willing should unite. It is a good time to act. Apathy, despair and disillusionment will not help. Act decisively, be consistent and persistent – things change, nothing stays the same: not in Nature not in Life, nowhere. We have responsibilities, it is up to us.

  2. ….”Nelson also asked the U.S. embassy for help in arranging for First Nations leaders to appear before the U.S. Congress”….nnbecause unlike “Indians” in Canada the “Indians” in the states are treated so much better ?

  3. Offer this Chief a parcel of land in the outskirts of Winnipeg.Remember the last time he threatened to cut off the TransCanada Railway, he wasn’t even there when that day came.Man of ’empty words’.

  4. Offer the Chief a small parcel of land and he’ll back off just like the last time.He’s the one that initiated the first national campaign a few years ago and when that day came, he wasn’t even part of it. A man of ‘Empty Words’.

  5. I agree with Chief Nelson. We have a major problem here on Turtle Island and the Governments of today refuse to deal with it. They have continually set things up to put us not only against them, but they have infiltrated and forced their system onto us. We have always remained allies, even through the toughest of times, but it is a one way street in the GOvernments of todays system. Now, not ALL of them are like that, but it is time to realize, if you want to stay a PEACEKEEPING Nation as they profess to be to other Nations, they really should start acting like it. It is time for healing and STOP with fake Apology’s. We will trust in the Creator to give these alleged Powers that be to realize, we are still here and without us, they are nothing. Peace and Love to all.

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